The 10 Fights That Led to Avengers: Endgame

Essential battles that set the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's epic showdown

Avengers Endgame Infinity War Battle of Titan 10 Best Fights Most Important
Avengers: Endgame

The biggest battle in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to ignite on screens. After 10 years of build up, Avengers: Infinity War left cinema’s biggest heroes decimated and our jaws on the theater floor. This Friday, Captain America, Iron Man, and the rest will dust themselves off (too soon?) and face down Thanos for the last time, with the fate of half the universe in the balance.

As the Avengers suit up in those snazzy white-and-red space suits, it’s natural to reconsider how they got here. You could follow the path of the Infinity Stones themselves, from Red Skull’s discovery of the Tesseract to Thanos’ sacrifice to reveal the Soul Stone. Or you could go crazy and recap every single movie — but we already did that.

Instead, with the final fight ahead, let’s take a look back at the clashes that set the stage for Avengers: Endgame. Although they may not all be the most memorable encounters, they substantially shaped the MCU. These are the duels that arranged the Avengers on the board, laid out for Thanos’ Snap to knock them all down. Before it ends, it’s worth remembering how the game was played.


Battle at Mar-Vell’s Laboratory

captain marvel space fight

Movie: Captain Marvel (2019)

Combatants: Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, Talos, Maria Rambeau, Goose vs Star Force (Yon-Rogg, Minn-Erva, Korath, Att-Lass, Bron-Char), Ronan the Accuser’s Fleet

T-Minus Snap: 22 years

Impact: From Nick Fury’s point of view, this is the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and not just because his literal point of view got a whole lot narrower. Though barely a fracas compared to the Battle of New York, Fury’s adventure with Carol Danvers led directly to it. The very concept of the Avengers was born in the aftermath, and the Tesseract landed in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, setting the stage for Thanos’ first invasion. What’s more, Fury and Danvers’ battle-bond would also eventually give half the universe a fighting chance thanks to the souped-up beeper, which summons the MCU’s most powerful hero to join the fray. In fact, Danvers’ refusal to back down during the ambush is what led to her unlocking her full potential, something the Avengers are going to be grateful for in the war to come.


Iron Man’s Cave Escape

iron man mark 1 cave battle

Movie: Iron Man (2008)

Combatants: Iron Man vs Raza and The Ten Rings

T-Minus Snap: 7 years

Impact: Captain America may have been the first Avenger, but it was the origin of Iron Man that truly kicked off the Age of Heroes. Tony Stark’s kidnapping, chest injury, and escape set the course as much for the entire history of the MCU as it did his own. Just as it inspired the billionaire playboy philanthropist’s desire to protect people, activating the bulky Mark 1 suit essentially triggered the Avengers Initiative. Although Cap would grow to be the true leader, the team started with Tony.


Battle of New York

Movie: Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

avengers battle of new york circle

Combatants: The Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye) vs Loki and the Chitauri

T-Minus Snap: 5 years

Impact: That moment where the camera circle-pans across the entire team pretty well sums it up: The Avengers had arrived. And so had their secret advisory. Thanos turning and smirking at the camera is arguably as big a moment as the heroes assembling, since it put the Mad Titan on a collision course with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It also put Loki’s Scepter in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s — and by extension, HYDRA’s — hands, which connects right to the next battle…


Battle of Sokovia

avengers vs ultron

Movie: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Combatants: The Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Scarlett Witch, Vision, Quicksilver) vs Ultron and his sentries

T-Minus Snap: 2 years

ImpactOn a small scale, the skirmishes leading up to the rise and fall of Novi Grad, Sokovia gave the Avengers their first clues to the Infinity Stones, one of which was their new teammate, Vision. Longterm, this extinction-level conflict sets all the groundwork for what results in The Decimation. The United Nations signing the Sokovia Accords furcated the Avengers — who had just lost Hulk to a mood — right as Thanos decided to “do it myself.” Without Ultron’s attempt to recreate the Chicxulub impact, the Most Powerful Being in the Universe would have faced unified opposition instead of fractured heroes, and that could have made all the difference.


Duel at Maggie Lang’s House

ant-man yellowjacket fight train

Movie: Ant-Man (2015)

Combatants: Ant-Man vs Yellowjacket

T-Minus Snap: 2 years

ImpactHow could such a small, humorous one-on-one fight have such major implications for the MCU at large? Well, we don’t rightly know yet. We do know that this is when Scott Lang first enters and, more importantly, exits the Quantum Realm. Although we get a lot more information about why the dimension is relevant in Ant-Man and the Wasp (hello, time vortexes), it’s this fight that breaks the seal. Exactly how that all plays out will be revealed in Endgame, but good money is on hearing the words “Quantum Realm” and “time travel” a lot come April 26th.


Battle at the HYDRA Siberian Facility

Captain America Civil War Winter Solider vs Iron Man

Movie: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Combatants: Iron Man vs Captain America and Winter Solider (vs Helmut Zemo vs Black Panther)

T-Minus Snap: 1 year

Impact: Whoa, you say. Did you just skip over the Clash of the Avengers, you ask? I sure did.

The Airport Battle would be an easy top three if we were ranking best fights, no doubt. In terms of impact, though, the beautifully choreographed tussle between Tony, Cap, and Bucky is more fundamental to where the Avengers go next. True, Cap’s team become fugitives or are put under house arrest as a result of the Germany confrontation, and we are introduced to Black Panther and Spider-Man in a big way (Giant-Man too, while we’re at it). However, as crazy as it is, Zemo’s plan worked, and that’s of far greater consequence. The Sokovia Accords split the Avengers, but Zemo’s plot cleaved them in two, making Earth easy pickings for Thanos and his army.



thor ragnarok hulk surtur valkyrie

Movie: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Combatants: The Revengers (Thor, Hulk, Valkyrie, Loki), Heimdall, Korg and the Sakaaran Rebellion, (and Skurge) vs Hela, Fenris, the Berserkers, Surtur, (and Skurge)

T-Minus Snap: Days

Impact: Imagine the trouble the Asgardians could have given Thanos and the Black Order if Hela hadn’t taken care of them first. The Mad Titan was on his way to wrestle the Tesseract from Asgard’s vaults; instead, he only had to wipe out a handful of refugees thanks to the Goddess of Death, Surtur, and Loki’s sticky fingers. If you consider Thanos would have likely gotten the Space Stone either way, perhaps the more crucial outcome of Ragnarök is where it left Thor, the Mightiest Avenger. In a very short run, Thor lost his father, then his hammer, then his home, then his people. His “rage, vengeance, anger, loss, regret” become his motivating drive to stop Thanos, and though he’s failed (twice), he’s not dead yet. And after the Decimation, he’s only angrier.


Attack on the Statesman

thanos vs hulk infinity war

Movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Combatants: Hulk, Thor, Loki vs Thanos, The Black Order (Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive)

T-Minus Snap: Days

Impact: For starters, Loki, Heimdall, and hundreds of Asgardians die when Thanos and his Children board the Sakaaran Rebellion’s escape vessel. It’s Thanos’ fisticuffs with Hulk, however, that has the largest effect on the coming conflict. Not only does it demonstrate the insurmountable might of the Mad Titan, but it ends up locking one of the Avengers’ most powerful assets, Hulk, inside Bruce Banner’s body. That doesn’t leave the good Doctor useless, of course, as he’s the only one who can explain what the hell is going on once he crashes back to Earth. While the fight we actually see on screen is relatively short, it establishes the context for everyone’s plans throughout the Infinity War.


Battle of Titan

thanos battle of titan infinity war

Movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Combatants: The Avengers (Iron Man, Spider-Man), Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Nebula), Doctor Strange vs Thanos

T-Minus Snap: Hours

Impact: Star-Lord’s fist against Thanos’ prune face, which prevents the heroes from stopping the Mad Titan when they had the chance. It’s the stupidest move in the MCU, but undeniably important. That little freakout leads to Thanos getting the Time Stone, leaving him one away from the Snap. Before that, we witness how powerful he is with only four stones; since the Snap will no longer be an option in the Endgame, how Thanos wields the Infinity Gauntlet is key. Also important is how his relationship with Nebula advances, considering how pivotal she is in the comic books. Killing her sister and stranding her on Titan after torturing her probably hasn’t ingratiated her to dear ol’ dad. She’ll be looking for some revenge come Friday.


Battle of Wakanda

Thanos infinity war snap

Movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Combatants: The Avengers (Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlett Witch, Bruce Banner/Hulkbuster, Thor, Vision), Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Okoye and the Dora Milaje, Guardians of the Galaxy (Rocket, Groot), M’Baku and the Jabari, Shuri, Golden Tribe, Border Tribe, Wakandan Royal Guard vs Thanos, The Black Order (Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive), the Outriders

T-Minus Snap: Minutes

Impact: The Decimation. Thanos ripped the Mind Stone from Visions head, survived a Stormbreaker to the chest, and snapped his fingers. Half the life in the universe turned to dust. A handful of heroes were left, either stranded on Titan or dealing with their devastating defeat on Earth. Welcome to the Endgame.


Bonus Battles:

Battle on the Norco

pepper iron man 3

Movie: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Combatants: Iron Man, War Machine (as Iron Patriot), Iron Legion, Pepper Potts vs Aldrich Killian and his Extremis Soldiers

T-Minus Snap: 5 years

Impact: Pepper Potts gets to go super for a minute here, and when she wields that Iron Man gauntlet to blow Aldrich Killian to bits, fans had one thought: Rescue. That’s the name Potts takes in the comics when she gets her own Stark armor. Seeing how devastated their ranks are, the Avengers may need to call on Potts to suit up if she survived the Decimation or is brought back somehow. This fight proves she’s up for the challenge and can lend a hand.

Battle of the Mirror Dimension

ancient one dies doctor strange mirror dimension

Movie: Doctor Strange (2016)

Combatants: Doctor Strange, Ancient One vs Kaecilius and his Zealots

T-Minus Snap: 1 Year

Impact: This one is pure speculation, but Tilda Swinton is expected to return as the Ancient One in Endgame. Considering she died in the Mirror Dimension, how she factors in is totally unknown. There are some clue though: One, the AO draws power from the Dark Dimension, and her experience working between dimensions could be valuable to the Avengers. As could, two, her knowledge of the Time Stone, as it seems clear time travel will be a huge factor in the Endgame.